Thursday, August 14, 2008


The following is from the blog of Edward W., an anarchist of Chinese ancestry active in Toronto. His blog is linked to the Linchpin site. It's about his reaction to watching the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

Olympics Opening Ceremony: The White Washing of State Repression:
I just watched some clips from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Definitely impressive and grand. But behind the hundreds of dancers wearing many of China's ethnic costumes is the mass state repression of these very ethnic groups represented. And we certainly cannot ignore the number of Han/Chinese workers displaced by the Olympics themselves and the attempt by Beijing to wall off working-class neighbourhoods considered an eye-sore* (yea! An eyesore as a result of your lack of concern for the interests of the working class). For who are these Olympics for? Certainly not the Chinese workers (whether Han or otherwise) as houses are torn down for 'green spaces' to promote a better image.

Today, I participated in a rally for Tibetan, Uighur, Burmese justice (there were also a number of Taiwanese protesters sporting Democratic Progressive Party shirts). I am a bit ashamed to have not heard of it before hand, but had just happened to cycle by. It was a decent action, with people chanting at the top of their lungs - though I did refrain from chanting Long Live Dala Lama (I support the Tibetan people not a theocratic 'leader').

I certainly attracted a few confused glances as one of the few Han Chinese amongst the crowd. At one point, a group of six or seven Tibetan protesters looked at me - as if I had something on my face or was seen as particularly good -looking; I am quite certain it was neither. And this is the problem, why are there so little Han people joining in opposition? The day before, I witnessed a large crowd of at least 200 Hans protesting against the repression of Falung Gong. We cannot pick and choose our injustices! We must oppose all forms of repression! This reminded me of a protest in Hong Kong against historical revisionism in Japanese textbooks on the topic of Japanese imperialism during WWII. Szeto Wah, a pro-democracy scholar in Hong Kong, came to the stage and expressed concern at the double standards held by the Chinese government: it's not ok for Japan to change history, but we are allowed to downplay if not outright censor the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He called on people to oppose both these injustices, to support the version of history held by oppressed people everywhere. As he was making this speech, I heard murmurs of confusions: "why is he talking about this here?", "what has this got to do with the protest?", "this is inappropriate!". Elements of the crowd began chanting pro-Chinese slogans to silence Szeto Wah, despite pleas from activists to hear Szeto Wah out. I was disgusted that day, and I am disgusted right now. We, as Han people, need to recognize that these struggles not only require cross-ethnic solidarity, but is a struggle faced by all of us. The repression of Tibetans, Uighurs, and other minority groups, are a part of the same processes displacing Han workers and widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

I have seen Tibetans stand side by side with the Burmese and the Uighurs. This is a plea for the Han-Chinese of Toronto, and indeed across the globe, to stand in solidarity with your brothers and sisters in Tibet, in Uighurstan, and in all places where repression is maintained.
* - article on the Star about this. I am obviously not a fan of Rosie Dimanno, who had written a number of classist (and not the good sorta classist) editorials, but journalists working for the mainstream press do a much better job criticizing foreign governments compared to their own, especially when it's in their interests to do so.
A critical look at the mainstream free-Tibet movement and the privileging of their struggle over others by the Western media. In addition, I attached an old high school essay I wrote expressing my views on why Tibet and Uighurstan are examples of Han Chinese colonialism.
EdwardW's blog

No comments: